The 293 Wallace Street Restaurant

Yesterday I was traveling through the Fraser Canyon once again. As usual, I was hungry. Rather than stop at Fat Jack’s Homestyle diner I decided to visit a new place I had heard about, The 293 Wallace Street Restaurant. And I have to say, it was good. Really good.

Not only is the food delicious and expertly prepared, much of it is locally sourced. Locally sourced to the point where the flower planters that are growing around the restaurant are not only beautiful to look at, they are also full of edible flowers, herbs and other leafy greens that can be used in food in the restaurant.

And, about the food. I did something I’ve never done before; I tried pork belly! I’ve seen this food item on the food channel time and time again but I’ve never actually had the opportunity to try it. This was my opportunity.

What a mistake to have not tried it up until now. Especially the way it was prepared by Chef Hiro Takeda, at 293 Wallace St Restaurant. How is that I had not yet tasted bacon’s closest relative?

Seared and crispy on the outside, incredibly tender and moist on the inside, the pork belly starter ($10) was a taste sensation. Of course being pork belly it can be kind of a fatty dish, so the very light vegetable broth with white beans it was served in made a perfect accompaniment to the pork belly. I did find that the vegetable broth needed a small shake of salt in order to add just a hint more intensity to the broth.

My choice for main course was going to be the lamb burger. However, I overheard the server describing the beef burger ($15) to the table beside me and her description changed my mind.

Ground sirloin, with Havarti cheese, red pepper relish, roasted garlic mayo, thick slices of bacon, fresh tomatoes and greens from the local farm? All served on a brioche bun baked at a bakery just up the street. How could I resist.

Although I’m not really a big fan of beef burgers, hearing the description made me decide to try it. The flavor combinations were intense. The deep smoky flavour of the bacon and the Havarti worked together perfectly.

While the burger was good, bordering on great, the fries stole the show. As you may know, my “gold standard” for fries has been the fries – frites – from the Spud Shack in New Westminster.

The fries at 293 Wallace St were as good, or maybe, just maybe, even better! A perfect shake of coarse salt added a lovely taste to the super crispy and uniformly un-uniform fries. I can only imagine how delicious the truffled fries ($2 extra when ordered with a meal) would be.

There is even a kid’s menu with items like mac & cheese ($6), chicken strips and fries ($6), crispy chicken Caesar ($7) or the classic cheeseburger and fries served with veggies and dip ($7). Even my fussy child could find something to eat from that list.

I did ask my server though, who patronizes this restaurant? After all how many people in Hope are going to eat pork belly in a vegetable broth or a confit duck and brie sandwich for $15? Or who is going to ask for slow cooked lamb sirloin with chickpea korma and basmati rice for $26?

My server told me that tourists during the tourist season are crowding the place. I didn’t really believe her seeing as I was the only person in the restaurant when I arrived. However, by the time I left there were 12 other tables with parties of diners being served. And I did hear someone order the lamb sirloin, the pan seared scallops, the lam burger and the Fraser Valley duck salad. All good for tourist season, but what about when it’s not tourist season?

Once again she had an answer; they are aiming for a clientele who are looking for a quality meal experience who care about where the food they eat is grown and raised. They are catering to people looking beyond a meal from a chain type restaurant like Earls or the Cactus Club.

The proof is in their continued success. I chatted with a couple (and their two very young children) sitting at the table beside me and they told me that 293 Wallace St has now survived two winters in Hope. Apparently surviving one winter is a test of stamina in the Hope restaurant scene. Surviving two winters means you are established.

I look forward to giving the 293 Wallace St. Restaurant the real test – I will stop in with my two kids and see how they like the food. For now I’m pretty impressed.

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